Buildings and Construction

Residential Construction Permits Climb in 2014


When a building goes up, just about everything else does, too.

The number of residential units approved per year has steadily risen over the last five years, carried by the outer boroughs where the demand is higher, according to a New York Building Congress report released today. While residential construction is only expected to climb in response to an affordable housing demand, the numbers are still well below pre-recession levels. Read More

Lease Beat

1 New York Plaza Adds to Its Lunchtime Repertoire

Naya Express in Midtown (Photo courtesy: Naya).

A fast-growing Middle Eastern food chain is heading Downtown among a cluster of other chains aimed at the lunchtime crowd, Commercial Observer has learned.

Naya Express inked a 10-year deal earlier this week for a 1,620-square-foot site at the redeveloped 1 New York Plaza, according to brokers in the lease agreement. Its neighbors include Chipotle and Starbucks, which have already set up shop, as well as the salad shop Chopped and burger joint Schnippers. Read More


Men At WeWork: Talking to WeWork Co-Founder Miguel McKelvey

WeWork co-founder Miguel McKelvey

Late last year, WeWork—the communal workspace company, which was founded in 2008—was valued at $5 billion. This co-working giant has been swallowing up hundreds of thousands of square feet of New York office space, and is only planning more. (It was reported last week that they’re even bringing the concept to residential as well as commercial space.)
It is fair to say that this company is standing the traditional office on its head. How did that happen? Where will they strike next? And (because this is in a Midtown South issue), how ripe is Midtown and Midtown South for expansion? We posed these questions—and a few others—to Miguel McKelvey who co-founded the company with Adam Neumann. Read More

The Lobby

Valerie Carlise Named Managing Director of Operations at DTZ

Valerie Carlisle.

Valerie Carlise has joined DTZ’s New York office as the managing director of operations, the company announced last week.

Ms. Carlise, who previously worked as the director of operations for Savills Studley’s New York and Boston offices, started her new role in February. She is “work[ing] to drive operational efficiency” alongside Peter Hennessy, the president of the New York tri-state region, according to a spokesman for the real estate company. Read More

Lease Beat

Private Equity Advisory Takes Final Madoff Floor in Lipstick Building

The Lipstick Building at 885 Third Avenue.

StepStone Group, a global private markets firm, has leased the entire 17th floor at the Lipstick Building, one of the floors leased to Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities, and the site of where company head Bernard Madoff operated his $65 billion Ponzi scheme, Commercial Observer has learned.

StepStone signed a 10-year lease for the 19,270-square-foot renovated space in the 34-story IRSA- and Marciano Investment Group-owned office tower at 885 Third Avenue between East 53rd and East 54th Streets, according to a release from the owners and the building’s co-asset management firm Herald Square Properties. The asking rent was $85 per square foot. The deal brings the building to 97 percent occupied. Only the 13,200-square-foot 28th floor is available for lease. Read More

Lease Beat

French Clothing Line Expands to Upper West Side

241 Columbus Avenue.

A French apparel brand is setting up its second New York City shop on the Upper West Side, Commercial Observer has learned, and is slated to open in September.

Paris-based IRO has inked a 10-year lease with the owner of 241 Columbus Avenue for 1,560 square feet on the first two floors of the building. The deal includes 860 square feet on the ground floor and 700 square feet on the lower level. Read More

Mortgage Observer

MetLife Finances 685 Third Avenue in $190M Deal

685 Third Avenue.

MetLife lent $190 million to a joint venture between TIAA-CREF and Australia’s sovereign wealth fund, known as the Australian Government Future Fund, to cover upgrades on the partnership’s 685 Third Avenue office tower, Mortgage Observer has first learned.

The five-year debt deal, which closed on March 18, carries a loan-to-value ratio of 54 percent, a MetLife spokesperson said. The 31-story building in Midtown has no existing debt, according to public records. Read More

Sales Beat

Food Importer Nabs Maspeth Industrial Building for $4M

54-36 48th Street in Maspeth.

A food importer has purchased a 16,000-square-foot industrial property in the Maspeth neighborhood of Queens for $4 million, Commercial Observer has learned.

The two-story building at 54-36 48th Street includes four commercial units: two warehouses and two offices. The property, which was built in 1989 and sits between 54th Road and 55th Avenue, was listed for $4.25 million. It sits on a 9,000-square-foot lot that is zoned for manufacturing. Read More


Market Share: With Companies Looking to Cut Costs, Office Shares Are All the Rage

One of the shared space companies taking NYC is PivotDesk.

The powers that be in New York City have done a great job of attracting startups—keeping them, however, is another issue.

But an up-close view of the Empire State Building is increasingly becoming a viable option for young businesses. Why? Co-working companies—which offer cut-rate office space so long as tenants are willing to share—are rushing into the Midtown South market, and beyond. Read More

The Sit-Down

Ziel Feldman and His Construction Binge, Starting With a Pair of High Line Projects

FROM A TO ZEIL: Mr. Feldman at his artfully decorated office (Photo: Aaron Adler for Commercial  Observer).

After four years of living on Park Avenue in the East 80s, Ziel Feldman will this year be moving to Marquand at 11 East 68th Street, a Beaux-Arts Revival rental-to-condominium conversion his firm is completing on Madison Avenue.

The chairman and founder of HFZ Capital Group (the H is for his wife Helene, F is for Feldman and Z is for Ziel) has worked on more than 30 conversion projects like The Chatsworth at 344 West 72nd Street, Astor at 235 West 75th Street, 11 Beach Street in Tribeca and One Madison Park. Read More

Sales Beat

312 Leonard Street Gets Highest Price East of B.Q.E.

312 Leonard east of the B.Q.E.

The sales record for the highest price per square foot for a Williamsburg property east of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway was set earlier this month at 312 Leonard Street, Commercial Observer has learned. The property on the corner of Conselyea Street includes a 1,580 square foot restaurant, a 420-square foot two car garage and a 1,264 square foot apartment. It sold for $3.1 million ($950 per square foot).

“This was a mutually beneficial transaction in a highly desirable location,” said Peter Levitan of Lee & Associates NYC, in a prepared statement. The broker-owned company has 51 locations in the U.S. Read More

Moving On

EDC President Leaving City Post in June

Kyle Kimball, left (Photo courtesy: Ruben Diaz, Jr./Flickr).

Kyle Kimball is stepping down as president of the Economic Development Corporation after nearly two years on the job.

Mr. Kimball is the last Bloomberg aide to leave City Hall, and plans to stay until June so Mayor Bill de Blasio can find a replacement, according The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the departure. He’s wrapping up a seven-year tenure with the EDC, which negotiates the sale and lease of city-owned land, which included expanding new industries to New York and setting up a ferry system on the city’s waterways. Read More

Power Player

CBRE’s Sacha Zarba: the Go-To Guy for NYC’s Hippest Tech Tenants

Sacha Zarba of CBRE (image: Arman Dzidzovic)

Sacha Zarba knows what tech tenants want.

“Typically, they prefer older building stock,” said the executive vice president at CBRE. “They prefer pre-war, high ceilings, that brick and timber feel, exposed brick, lots of wood. They’re looking for buildings and neighborhoods where their workforce can feel at home. Access to amenities, nightlife, bars, restaurants. They [also] want to be close to where the leading technology firms are, so that they can [capitalize] on that creative vibe,” he said. Read More